You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.
Graduates of Notre Dame High School, nearly fifty years ago, I sat where you now sit. I was a fresh-faced seventeen year old graduate of Utica Catholic Academy who was headed off to university as most of you are now. Today my school has been subsumed into your school along with St. Francis de Sales High School, the other girls high school of my era. Notre Dame High School was the boys high school. Our schools were “separate but equal” but today all of you are together under one roof. Perhaps it’s better this way. In our day, we did many things together. We girls were the cheerleaders for Notre Dame; the boys participated in our drama clubs. We went on some field trips together. We were invited to school dances at each other’s schools. Our lives were tied together. And now your lives really are tied together.
The bonds you have formed here in high school are important. Some of the friends you have made you will have for the rest of your lives. You may fall out of touch for awhile, but eventually you will get back in touch with each other. You will want to reconnect with your youth, believe me. Because the connection you make now have formed who you are as a person. And eventually you will come to realize that. It may take awhile for this to sink in. Many years, in fact. But the light will begin the dawn. You will remember all the things you shared with your friends from high school and how they shaped you into the person that you are today and you will want to connect with them again. You will want to see who they have become in their grown-up lives. And you will go looking for them on websites–Facebook, Classmates, those types of sites. And you’ll find them and you’ll find yourself actually going to school reunions to see old friends. And you’ll find yourself yourself a better person a person for it.
Many school graduation speakers will talk to you about success. I won’t talk to you about that. I’ll leave that for others. After you’ve connected to other people to rediscover yourself, I would encourage you to make you are a good citizen. Make sure you are an involved person in your community. That mean that you vote, of course, but also that you go to city or town meetings. Voice your opinions. Volunteer to help with projects in the community. Especially volunteer with groups that touch your heart. For example, I work with the organization called CASA–Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children in the Family Courts. I work with a case of abused or neglected children in the Family Court and represent the interests of those children before the court. I visit the children and make their wishes known to the court. I tell the court what is in the best interest of the children. Sometimes they have no one else to speak for them. This is my passion. I am an advocate volunteer but I am now also a peer coordinator, which mean I supervise three other advocate volunteers. There are many volunteer groups that need your help. Tutoring groups for children who can’t read, Big Brother and Big Sisters–children who need an adult in their lives–you can do that even now in your lives now that you are adults; you can be a role model for a child. Scout leaders. Volunteers in church groups. Working with environmental groups. Raising money for charitable groups. Working with historical groups and museums. There are so many volunteer opportunities. You are sure to find something that you like.
So these are the two pieces of advice that I would like to give you today. These are the two ways I hope that you would discover yourself. One is not to lose contact with your friends from high school, or to remember to get back in touch with them if you do fall out of touch. The second you can start right now. Get involved in whatever community in live in, whether it be at the university you attend or at home or where you go to live. Volunteer. Be a part of life. Live life in your community. Don’t be a bystander. Do these things and you will have lived a full life. Thank you for listening to me.